*You can buy the book here.
When North Norfolk artist Eddie Fowler accepts an invitation from his business partner, Martin Hogg, to visit Venice, he finds that this beautiful, intimate city reawakens long-hidden memories.
He is reminded once again of Martin’s wife, Theresa, a fragile and intuitive artist, who mysteriously disappeared nearly twenty years before.
As he searches for answers to this mystery among the vast landscapes of the North Norfolk coasts and the narrow streets and canal-side cafes of Venice, Theresa’s daughter, Maria, asks him to help her with her own search to discover the secrets of her family’s history; a search that leads to discoveries neither of them expected.
A story about love and sacrifice, about secrets destined to remain hidden.
Copyright Francis Barker 2020
The only possible way to describe Caterina Sforza is by making use of the words agitator, rebel, fighter, renegade, and unyielding. She was a woman of substantial strength, intelligence, and tenaciousness. Caterina would take charge and show unbelievable character despite her hard as nails attitude.Medieval History ╽Caterina Sforza: One of History’s Fiercest Females – Countess Of Forli — THE CHRONICLES OF HISTORY
The rare and elusive, mythical, magical unicorn has been part of folklore and legend for centuries, evolving spectacularly into the modern age.Medieval Lore: The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries — Under the influence!
We have all been spending more time at home and may continue to do so, so it’s a good time to learn something new — like playing guitar.
This is an all solid wood parlour guitar, spruce top, trembesi back and sides, so it’s a bit more expensive. Mercurys, like all the Faith models, come in a variety of versions. The cheapest is the ‘naked‘ version, with solid mahogany back and sides and matt finish solid spruce top.
Mercurys are easy to hold and play, perfect for kids, or for anyone to learn the guitar. It’s also great for doodling on the settee, all thanks to its smaller size, scale and 12th fret neck join.
Ideal for women especially, in my opinion, because historically this is pretty much exactly like the kind of guitar ladies used to play in their parlours!
Copyright Francis Barker 2020
he world’s first known author is widely attributed to have been the daughter of Sargon (1) of Akkad in the 23rd century BC. We know her today as Enheduanna, which may have been a title of office, in which case her real name is unknown. She was the High Priestess of Nanna-Suen, a moon deity of Mesopotamia
She was sat
on the old porch, a piece
of me I’d left
in some spring
long ago. I knew it
in an instant, as
soon as she looked up—
our minds dovetailing as if
nothing had happened
in those draining,
intervening years. A part
of me wanted
to move on and deny
what my heart was insisting, but
the spark was still there,
some sweet, indefinable
the space beside her and
I sat down
on the creaking pinewood. The air was
a low September sun
buttering the track
in front of us
and the turning trees
all around us
and the pale skin
of her arms, her legs,
and that gentle,
“Do you remember
when we were spring?”
I nodded, watching
her lips break
into that dimpled smile. In
her eyes I saw again
and the blossom,
like promises, journeys
only taken in our minds
poem © copyright Francis Barker 2012
Often considered one of the three great ladies of impressionism, Berthe Morisot’s works were described as exuding much feminine charm.
Born to a wealthy family, her early style was said to be ‘effleurer’, or of a light touch, though her palette was usually quite restrained in the use of colour.
She had three major periods in her work, watercolour, pastel, and then oil painting, though at times she was not averse to mixing all three mediums together. Even during her lifetime she was considered one of the best impressionists and still has a high reputation today.
Responsive love of balance
What can we see from her chart?
She has Cancer rising, making the Moon her ruler, which is in Libra conjunct Mars in house 4.
She seems to have had very strong feelings, and could probably argue well. The Moon in Libra loves balance and harmony and this is invigorated by the Martian energy. She was clearly very responsive. Mars is also the ruler of house 10 of career and house 5 of creativity, all indicative of an energetic and creative career.
A spur to achievement
Her Capricorn Sun in house 7 along with Mercury, gives her the ability to graft and study seriously, but clearly her marriage to Manet’s brother Eugene was extremely important, as was her relationships to other artists of that period, from whom she gained much inspiration.
However, the Sun’s challenging square to her Moon and Mars, shows that there were some major difficulties in her relationships at home, possibly in her childhood, which could have felt like a cleavage, but a spur to achievement in the long run.
A sea of artistic inspiration
It’s like her own strong feelings being at loggerheads with her sense of duty as a person as she grew.
Most interesting of all to my mind is Venus conjunct the MC in Pisces in house 9. If Venus can represent an aspect of art, then Pisces is like a sea of inspiration, very close to one of the prime indicators of career, or life direction.
This, perhaps, more than any other point in her chart, describes her very soft, subtle signature style of ‘effleurer’ and the ‘feminine charm’ she was known to illustrate in her work.
copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019
Although born near Pittsburgh, USA in 1844, Mary Cassatt spent most of her life in France.
For someone who came to epitomise the ‘new woman’ of the time, who never married, and developed a career of their own, it is perhaps no surprise that we find Aquarius rising in her chart.
Aquarius is independent, freedom loving and likes to break new ground, yet can remain quite conservative at heart. This is shown in many aspects of her life. One of her primary subjects was women and their relationship to children, a traditional, genre.
The new feminine
Interestingly as well, we find Neptune in Aquarius in the first house. Neptune I equate with femininity and in Aquarius this is coloured by looking at it in new, independent spirit.
She clearly identified with this. Neptune’s quite tight trine aspect with Mars in Gemini in 5th house, adds much creative flair to her artistic expression. It was fellow impressionist, Degas, who introduced her to pastel and engraving, both genres she went onto master, testifying to her latent abilities.
We also find Saturn quite close to her ascendant in opposition to the Moon in Leo in the 7th house. Saturn here indicates caution and her strong moral fibre, but the opposition to the Moon reveals troubles and frustrations in her life, particularly within herself, in relationships and professional life. The Moon in Leo in itself is naturally creative and artistic.
Both the Moon and Saturn are in good aspect to Uranus in Aries in the 2nd house, further supporting her kind of organic, sensible way of breaking new ground by truly living the part of the ‘new woman’.
Also, Saturn’s trine to Mercury in the 5th house, shows an easy creative release for her through something which is manually dexterous, like painting. Mercury also in good aspect the Moon in Leo supports this release function through some kind of creativity.
Finally, I come to Venus, essentially unaspected in Cancer in the 6th house of work. I found this a little surprising at first, though a prominent Venus isn’t a necessarily a prerequisite for artistic ability.
Venus in Cancer is tender, likes the home and family and is another symbolic representation of what she painted a lot of, women and children. In the 6th house, this is a classic indication of working artistically, or simply loving work.
Also, an unaspected planet can often ‘shout’ to be heard, so to speak. It may well have spoken to her creatively, but is this Venus also symbolic of the fact that she never married, that she was tied to her work?
So in all, Mary Cassatt may have been something of an enigma. She lived the life of a ‘new woman’, widened the boundaries of art through her involvement in the impressionist movement, yet inwardly, she retained strong moral values and a liking for tradition.
copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019
I’ve had my Faith Mercury parlour guitar for nearly four years now. I remember that it wasn’t a very easy purchase.
So OK, let me explain. I love electric guitars too; I’d had my American Stratocaster for number of years but it simply wasn’t getting played. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, far from it. I don’t gig so it’s far easier sitting around with an acoustic. I just wanted something smaller, lighter, easier in my lap – a ‘sofa guitar’ you might say.
Look, I’d got other acoustics (I’ll come back to them another time) but not a genuine 12 fret join-at-the-neck acoustic. They are usually called parlour guitars due to the fact that they were originally made in more genteel times for ladies to strum in their parlours. How quaint, I thought. I’ve seen plenty of women who can handle much bigger guitars than this, but again that’s another story.
You actually traded in the Strat?
So, once I’d come to terms with the knowledge that parlour guitars weren’t necessarily the exclusive property of women, I had to make a decision. Yes, I was going to trade in the Strat! What? It was hard to let it go: Heck, even the smell of it was great.
Yet, when I first took hold of that light Faith Mercury parlour it was the perfect fit for noodling, fingerstyle playing which is basically where I’m at these days. You might call it the quintessential songwriters’ guitar and I’ve been known to write a few.
The Faith Mercury is a perfect wee beastie: The simple Faith logo on the headstock, solid woods all round with a spruce top, trembesi back and sides and some beautiful rosewood binding to boot, which I really love. Mine has the glossy top, with matt finish back and sides. The solid trembesi, I am told, sits tonally somewhere between rosewood and mahogany. Sounds great.
Not boxy out of the box
However, perhaps the most surprising thing, considering it’s a parlour guitar, is that it’s not that boxy sounding; in fact there’s a fair amount of bass and thus a fuller, richer sound than I was expecting. It was in tune ‘right out of the box’ as the saying goes, and it’s so easy to play, the action just right for me. And by the way, it wasn’t actually a box but rather a very nice case emblazoned with the Faith logo.
My only ‘quibble’ is the fact that it doesn’t smell like a Martin (Martin owners will know what I mean) – but you can’t have everything, I suppose. Faith make some fantastic, great value guitars and I wouldn’t hesitate buying another. The only problem is making a choice. I’ve always fancied another Faith Mercury with the scoop and pick up. Equally I’d like a Venus, but which one?
Bog oak – is that a thing?
Then there’s the one made with that ancient bog oak, was it? Actually I think they’ve made several by now. One day I will make my mind up. I just hope I don’t have to trade in another to get one.
But get this. About a month ago my wife said, “can you teach me to play guitar?” After getting up off the floor and saying “yes, of course, Darling,” I wondered which of my several acoustics she would prefer to learn on. Absolute no brainer, the Faith Mercury won hands down. “It’s just the right shape for me,” she said, having struggled just a little with the others. Now she’s already trying to pick out the ‘Game of Thrones’ theme tune and I can’t get a look in!
It looks like parlour guitars are indeed very suitable for women and most especially the Faith Mercury. I’ll just have to remind her that it’s actually my guitar!